Beyond Gender: Towards a Feminist Analysis of Humanitarianism and Development in Sri Lanka


Hyndman, Jennifer and Malthi De Alwis. 2003. “Beyond Gender: Towards a Feminist Analysis of Humanitarianism and Development in Sri Lanka.” Women's Studies Quarterly 31 (4): 212-26.

Authors: Jennifer Hyndman, Malthi De Alwis


We are not interested in highlighting the shortcomings of specific policies or staff in the fields of development and humanitarianism. Rather we contend that the root of the problem lies in the way in which gender has been conceived and disseminated within these fields. Accordingly, we outline a more comprehensive, and still portable, feminist analytic that provides a more sophisticated approach to understanding the production of gender identities and relations. The idea that gender identities and relations are generated differently across space and time, and have no essential pre-established qualities, is critical to changing them. This feminist analytic, then, is at once a tool for understanding social, economic, and political relations and a tool for changing them. We define feminist for the purpose of this article as reflecting analyses and political interventions that address the unequal and often violent relationships among people based on real or perceived social, economic, political, cultural, and sexual differences. The analysis and elimination of patriarchal relations of power within each of these fields is a primary focus. We recognize that there is more than one kind of feminism, and we do not wish to fix the category "feminist" in any singular manner nor to create a typology of feminisms. We contend that gender analysis has fallen prey to such rigidities, and has thus limited its analytical strength.

Keywords: gender relations, feminist, gender identity

Topics: Development, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2003

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